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Elders in the RPCNA

30. September 2017

Features, Theme Articles,


This article was a collaborative effort completed on behalf of the Special Committee on Ruling Elder Participation in Synod.

As a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, you have likely considered the question, what does it mean to be Reformed Presbyter­ian? Perhaps the simplest explanation is that we are Reformed and presbyterian, rather than a reformed version of presbyterianism. This means that we are grounded in the historic faith and traditions of the Great Reformation, beginning with the courage of Martin Luther, the writings of John Calvin, the preaching of men like John Knox, and the faith of many others of that age. It also means that we are presbyterian in our system of government—our ecclesiology.

To be presbyterian means that the church is, as Scripture directs, led and shepherded by presbuteros—the Greek word translated elder. While most denominations recognize the authority and governance of the church as directed from Christ through the presbyter, Scripture further guides this to be accomplished through a “plurality of elders” (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). This plurality of elders is a cornerstone of presbyterianism. It is not a rule by one, or even a rule by a few; rather, it is guidance through a group of elders (session) who gather to lead, shepherd, feed, protect, and care for the sheep. Additionally, the elders who oversee the local church sessions also meet to oversee the broader ...

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